I’ve always been the slouch in the back row, just ignore me and go about your business kind of person.
But when it comes to yoga, I am a devout front row practitioner. This is not because my practice is perfect and I am dying to have the class look at my Shakti-clad ass. I practice in the front precisely because of my flaws; my hips are eternally askew, my floor bow is uneven and I go duck-footed with the slightest provocation. I need to be able to tweak my alignment and that is easier from the front row.
But the other day I arrived late to a busy class and the front row was full. Totally full. There was not a single inch I could have scooted my way into. I clutched my mat and stood in the hot room like a discombobulated deer. After an awkwardly long period of standing and blinking, I set up in the back row.
Things look different from back there. Things sound different from back there. The air flow is different back there.
My practice, however, was not so different. My practice was still my practice. Sure, it was different in the way that every day is different, but my placement in the room had not altered its essential nature. Is it ridiculous to say I was kind of shocked by this?
It reminded me of this Hindu story;
A spiritual leader and his disciples had a cat, who lived in their temple. The cat would bother them during their meditation, so they would tie her up so that no one would be disturbed. Every time they would meditate, they would first tie the cat to the pole; it became something of a ritual. When the cat died, the meditators were panicked – how could they possibly meditate without a cat to tie to the pole?
Routines can be really comforting, but they can come at a price if you rely on them too heavily. I love that the yoga studio is my home away from home and I love my routine. When I go to practice, I park in the same place, use the same stripy towel and tie up my hair in the same way.
But one of the things that yoga is teaching me is flexibilty. Not just the back-bending kind, but the kind that makes me feel like I can handle anything. I can be in that 105 degree room, killing myself for 90 minutes and I can keep calm and keep breathing. I can do anything. Even from the back row.
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